Parents explain why they withdrew their children from NC's virtual charter schools

WRAL News filed a public records request with the North Carolina Office of Charter Schools to find out specific reasons students and families have given for leaving the state's two virtual charter schools - N.C. Connections Academy and N.C. Virtual Academy.

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Kelly Hinchcliffe
RALEIGH, N.C. — WRAL News filed a public records request with the North Carolina Office of Charter Schools to find out specific reasons students and families have given for leaving the state's two virtual charter schools – N.C. Connections Academy and N.C. Virtual Academy.

The office of charter schools provided responses from a 2015-16 survey, which asked parents: "If your child was enrolled for less than nine months, please explain why."

The records WRAL News reviewed did not reveal parents' or students' names but did show which school the students were enrolled in. Below are some of the parents' responses, by school. Some of their responses have been edited to redact personal information.

North Carolina Connections Academy

This school is very hard. I felt like there was way more work to do then if you were in a public setting and it was also confusing to me trying to figure out the parent portal. If nc were to get on the same page state wide it would be a lot better but we are from the rural areas where we don't have a lot of resource for our students and the virtual school is based out of Raleigh where their students have nicer materials. Curriculum should be the same statewide so that if you change schools or move etc you won't be behind because you would have learned the same things already.

Because we pulled him out because he was bored to death and his teacher was a complete jerk to me saying I was giving him the answers and I was not. We decided to home school him.

We moved.

We were quite disappointed with the school. We had numerous teacher changes and many complications with the math program especially. We decided to withdraw our son from the program after one semester and re-enroll him at (another school).

We moved back home for him to go to high school with his friends

School was disorganized and not a good fit for us.

My 4th grader learns better in a group structured setting.

My grandson had problems forwarding his work. We really did not know what was going on. We felt somewhat helpless. Working from home was an adjustment. It would have been better if there had been some type of info for a transition to this type of school. NCVA has some info which I wish I would have had last year when we began. I am going to read up on it again and I am going to have him to read it also. I want him to be successful this time.

Logistical changes within the house hold made it difficult for my daughter to attend a virtual school.

Had to go into foster care and attend traditional public school. Our original intent was for the children to compete the year.

The school was disorganized and did not have a full staff. My daughter had three science teachers from August until Dcember and had exactly one live lesson. She also started the year with a substitute social studies and advisory teacher. Half of her core teachers were substitutes. Perhaps they could have given half the kids a substitute science teacher and the other half a substitute science teacher. She essentially had no advisory teacher. We got one phone call in five months ... She also often worked twelve hours a day on school work, probably because she got no support from teachers ... I had two other children who attended Connections as well. My first grader asked to be removed because she learned nothing new in five months. My son in fourth grade saw no value to his classes. He was able to complete his work by himself and learned very little in his five months. All three children were accustomed to lessons that made connections across the curriculum. This was not the case at all. The learning ws very compartmentalized.

Work was given too fast, classes had nothing to do with assignments, worked ahead and teacher reset program so no time for field trips, etc. when we asked for help with schedule art and PE were taken away, schedule was over whelming.

She did not like the online approach. She hated reading everything, and preferred to have peers to interact with. She only enjoyed the class conversations since that allowed the interaction she craved.

We wanted to try this type of education for a year and see if it was a good fit for our child.

Had problems with her attentiveness and sleeping late. She needed the structure of a planned schedule and someone who she could not push-over, like she did her mom.

We were not happy with the program. We felt lost and like our children were not retaining information. The live web classes were hard to learn from because the teachers were in cubicals (in one large room) and it was so loud on their end. We could hear all teachers talking at once. Plus most children were playing in chat while class was in session. I'm guessing most parents did not supervise their children like I did because all they did was talk about gaming while the teacher spoke. So I prefer traditional homeschooling so that my kids can focus and actually learn something.

We felt the school was not a good match for our situation and shifted to homeschooling.

Tech issues caused classes to be delayed however the same amount of work was required once the site was back up and running. My son felt overwhelmed started with 5 days worth of work pending. Alsour, an inability to get in contact with leadership to resolve. It became a nightmare. Then to remove my child it became another major task.

Took child out as she felt she could not keep up. Had hard time with time.

I felt like the teaching wasn't individualized enough for my child and not challenging to her particular abilities.

The school ended up being a lot more work for the coach than we expected. In my opinion the role of coach was really teacher. The actual teachers relied too much on the automation. And didn't do enough to answer questions that came up. Instead they replied on the coach to do that. And that should not have been the coaches role. In my opinion it felt like the coach was the only person responsible for my child's education. We didn't like the school and decided to switch.

It was too much read text and take test. The school was not dynamic and the parent was the primary teacher. We withdrew our children because we didn't like the experience.

It seemed unorganized, there was not much support, the teachers did not seem very engaging. When my daughter emailed questions, she was not responded to. She was basically not getting much of an education other than what she was teaching herself.

He got into a school he had been on the waiting list for, we knew we wouldn't be able to online school forever. this was a k-12 school so it answered our problem for the future.

Decided to withdraw after Spring Break.

The school focused too much on testing and my daughter's anxiety got very high. She lost interest in school and started dreading it. It was not intended to be a shorter term than the school year. I encouraged her to stick out the year but it just became too much for her.

Did not workout with me as a full time worker. Did not have anyone to help me as a coach for my child. If could have found someone would have continued.

Didn't fit our family's needs

My child transferred into connections academy after 5 weeks at a public school due to behavioral challenges. Enrollment was strictly for the purpose of allowing flexibility to find solutions for aforementioned challengea.

I had 2 enrolled, both are medically complex kids ... Previously homeschooled they had no 501 or IEP, mid year I had one child that was falling behind due to lack of modifications to assignments and the other has been on bed rest ... and got behind on classes and teachers didn't make accommodations for her to catch up. We pulled them out in January and went back to homeschooling.

Our intention was for our child to only complete one year- the end of middle school.

There was to much hands on work involved for his age range on my part.

Had a hard time getting immunization records cleared.

He was recovering from medical issues and had a hard time keeping up with the schoolwork.

Plans to go to local school upon starting high school.

I felt like my child was not doing as well as he could have in brick and mortar schools--like attention was given to the top students and the lowest students, and those in the average area weren't allowed to grow. My child was getting overall threes, but was coming home with 2s on papers, and also didn't seem to care. He said he hated school ... I cherished having a year with my son.   At the end of the year, he has gone back to the brick and mortar school with a reset.   He has much higher expectations of himself.    He works harder.   He realizes now that he likes school.   I spent a year tutoring him every day--it was a wonderful year, and I thank Connections Academy for that.   Our teacher ... was absolutely wonderful. She bent over backward to help us and though we only saw her a few times during the year, it was clear that she not only was a talented teacher, but that she loved the children and sincerely cared for their needs.   I wouldn't recommend online school for everyone, but it was a perfect reset for my son!    I'm so grateful to have had the opportunity!  Really the only reasons my son went back to brick and mortar were that he wanted more friends around and also I had to go back to work.

North Carolina Virtual Academy

The amount of time require by the learning g coach was much greater than anticipated !

What was advertised wasn't what the experience ended up being. We were guaranteed flexibility, there was no flexibility. We were told our kids wouldn't be on the computer that much maybe only 20% of the time. It ended up being more like 80% of the time. Doing multiple children was extremely hard because they are all doing dofferent things and they all require an adult to attend class connects and there is no way to do that when both your kids class connects are at the same time. I found the class connects to be an extreme waste of time as well.

NCVA, after 4 months of excessive emails, phone calls, and voicemails, still could not set an IEP for my child. At our last IEP meeting, the school stated that they hadn't tested enough and still requested more testing. We left to go to NCCA. We planned to stay for the long haul. Sadly, the school didn't seem to care about setting an IEP in a reasonable amount of time (or what I considered reasonable, k12 stated that it could take a year).

To difficult for parents considering it's a public school option. It required too much involvement, website was unclear, pace too fast, subjects too hard while not enough support from teachers to help students that didn't understand the topic.

Family circumstances changed, it no longer worked for our situation. We wanted to see how it would work. It was a test run for us.

I was planning for this enrollment to be long term but at the end of 3rd grade and EOG's everything changed ... I was to enroll him in a required summer camp to help him increase his reading to see if eligible to move on to 4th. Also the Mark 12 reading program was no longer going to be available moving forward. This school as well as his prior charter no longer fit the needs of my son.

My child wanted to go to our neighborhood high school.

Returned to public school.

Enrolled at another school.

He was administratively disenrolled for falling behind.

they dropped my son because he was living through health issues and crisis in his life and simply did not care. He was behind but a very bright stident. He could not get certain assignments in on time due to these issues. They dropped him rejected him the last thing he needed in his life ! It was almost at the end of the year. He would have failed if not for me being able to get him in our public school near our home. so unfair our whole experience with them was confusing ,inconsistent times teachers were not even in class. It was a miserable experience all around!

Our experience with NCVA was extremely negative. Teachers missed classes, and when they did come to class were mostly unprepared to teach the students. The instructors seemed generally unprepared as well. One example- our son's English teacher sent the class an email full of grammatical errors and emojis. Based on these experiences, we felt that we had no choice but to return our son to his former school. This was very disappointing because our family was initially very excited at the opportunity for a quality online education. NCVA was not the answer. We were planning on attending the whole year, but withdrew our son because of the poor quality of education provided.

We unenrolled at the end of the first 9 weeks session to pursue our children's home education through the department of non-public education. The mandatory online classes did not fit our scheduling needs, nor did they allow us to work at an individual pace in various subjects ... We were hoping to press on forward with more challenging work in math but unable to do so with NCVA. Also, one of our (children) had an IEP from previous year in public school which we felt was not being adequately addressed through the virtual academy in a timely manner.

The word load was too heavy and very complicated. My child had a hard time keeping up with the work.

We loved the flexibility of virtual school and the rigorous online curriculum but the administration of the school (expected for NC public schools) was very poor - teachers quitting, problems with IEP goals, etc. ... she felt very isolated. I would have had to quit my job to do online school long-term, so we decided it was better to go back to a bricks and mortar private school.

Child wanted to return to regular school as we had just moved from a more rural setting.

We travel alot and was unsure if the program would work with traveling.

In pre-school sessions, we were told the classes would allow flexibility for student's schedule with field trips, class activities, etc. However, the class schedule did not allow for flexibility. Sitting for 6-8 hours a day is not an option for my child.

We started in January and only made it until April. In April we decided to pull a second child out of brick and mortar but by that point NCVA was no longer accepting new students. We decided if we were going to have to homeschool one, we might as well do both so we pulled the one that was enrolled in NCVA out. We did enjoy the program though, and if NCVA would have let our 4th grader in during April, we would have had two in the program.

I had two children enrolled ... We found that the lack of social interaction between other students had a negative impact on our children's behavior at home. They began to exhibit symptoms of depression among other things. We put them back in a traditional brick and mortar school and they had a complete turnaround in behavior and mood.

The beginning was great but once they started adding on required online class times and more required testing, the flexibility was lost. Would've preferred leaving the K12 program the way it was originally intended by K12. The final decision to withdraw was made when the curriculum was modified/reduced to be less than originally intended by K12. She was enrolled for the duration based on previous K12 experience. Once the curriculum was changed, we were no longer interested.

Started second semester. Didn't look into until after the school year started and decide it wasn't for us after finishing the school year.

I decided to go back to homeschooling myself.

I tried to get his elective teacher on the phone for over 5 weeks, then gave up. Biggest factor in leaving was testing coordinator refused to provide accommodations for EOY testing, so I felt it was in my interest to pull my child.

We enrolled in public school the second semester in January.

Decided to withdraw due to school not meeting expectations.

We chose Online school because of a competitive sport and after 4 months felt it wasn't a good fit for our daughter. We did not feel like the program was tailored to her strengths and did not offer the opportunity for her to be challenged as she entered above grade level language arts.

Child was not comfortable interacting with teacher in an online environment; a lot of miscommunication and confusion/frustration with use of technology. We had two children attending and when one computer crashed, we were unable to continue the program with only one computer because their time schedule of online classes overlapped. A lot of changes in teachers/special education teachers quitting created a lot of confusion with our other child's curriculum. She was uncomfortable with miscommunication with teacher...teacher putting her into online nonparticipation rooms when she did not understand what the teacher was asking her to do.

We entered about a month after the opening and did our best to catch up as well as become acquainted with all the online procedures. It proved to be overwhelming for me and my daughter, plus she missed the social aspect of school, so we decided to return. Overall, it was not the fault of this school..I was actually quite impressed with the curriculum and most of the teachers.

He got behind on his work and could not get caught up.

it was unbearable.

We were not satisfied with the school.

Failure to thrive.

Teachers changed often. Poor communication between students and teachers related to due assignments. Teachers were regularly absent for their class for various reasons. Standardized assignments were not graded accurately at times. Did not plan for it to be a finite period. It just became apparent she would not thrive at NCVA based on the problems previously stated.

My child went back to public school because the teachers kept changing at the virtual school and she could not get the help that she needed.

Moved out of state.

I pulled her out in October of 2015. It was not a good fit for our family.

My child was ... placed in a partial hospital program ... When this happened the NCVA increased his work load and then did an administrative withdrawal despite the recommendations from the psychiatrist and the school.

We were very dissatisfied with the teacher turnover, the amount of time with no teacher, lack of response regarding accommodations, and the last straw was the technology issues. Grades would randomly change and no one would address that.

Online classes running until 4:30 in the afternoons conflicted with all of our extra curricular activities, and there was no way to do both.

Family moved to another state.

Didn't care for a few of the teachers. We needed a slower pace and felt it was too hard to keep up with class connects.

She wanted to return to brick and mortar school m.

We moved to our new home and enrolled her in the local public school. We planned for her to finish high school at the virtual academy but she was very unhappy doing school online.

My daughter was frustrated by the teacher turnover, inconsistent grading procedures, and limited choice of courses offered. She did not feel like she could get helpful one on one assistance, especially in Math. We constantly asked for tutors, but were never given an option.

The curriculum was to hard to understand and navigate through.

My child started towards the middle of the school year. Their were too many assignment giving to catch her up wit the rest of the class. That was a lot do in fact she was working really hard and it just seem like work on top of work with out a break. She felt rushed learning the new assignments and wasnt grasping the lessons in order to do test/ quiz.

The quality of the education was poor.


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